Water deserves our respect. Without this limited, precious resource, life on earth wouldn’t survive. In Ontario, we are surrounded by freshwater, making it easy to take this resource for granted. In 2015, the average Canadian was reported to use 320 L of water a day, a large percentage of which is wasted.
Overwatering our landscapes including gardens, lawns, and planters is one of the main ways that we waste water, especially during the spring and summer season. Irrigation systems are a practical solution that reduces water waste and helps ensure that plants receive the amount of water that they need.
Responding to the Needs of our Outdoor Landscapes
Our gardens, landscapes, and lawns require water to survive. Natural precipitation, especially if it was a summer like last year’s, is not enough to sustain them. But, how much water do our properties need?
The truth is not as much as we think. Overwatering our planters, grass, and gardens can result in plants with damaged, or even worse, rotting root systems. The challenge is that we often can’t tell how much water our plants need merely by looking at them. This is further complicated by the fact that landscapes that are overwatered often have a similar appearance to gardens that are dry-including wilting plants and yellowing (or even brown) leaves.
To minimize the amount of water that is used in the long term-we need to develop a strong, healthy root system. Healthy roots help to build the overall plant’s resiliency including being able to sustain daily stressors, including periods of drought. This process begins by making sure that water travels from the surface of the soil into the roots of the plant. However; to grow the root system, the plants need to experience periods of dryness.
Smart monitoring systems ensure that your plant’s roots receive the proper amount of water when it needs it.
Here are a few of our favourite tools that help keep our properties Waterwise:
1. Hunter Industries ProHC Controller with Hydrawise
Durable and reliable, Hunter HC Controllers are ideal for cottages, residential and commercial properties. While the Wi-Fi (Cloud-based) enabled system makes it easy to track and make schedule adjustments via computer or smartphone.
We love this system because we can customize it to exactly what our customers need. This includes:
Optional soil and rain sensors help us make sure that our client’s properties receive precisely the amount of water that they need.
· Hydrawise flow meter to systems that are on the municipal water supply. This option will alert our Earth Elements Irrigation Technician to any changes in water flow so that we can remotely detect and stop leaks directly from our smart phones.
Smart phone and remote tracking capabilities which enables us to be able to fully support our client, including tracking and adjusting their customer systems for a very low cost.
But, it’s the cloud-based Hydrawise software that makes this app-based controller one of our favourites for water conservation. This smart software uses a variety of data including weather predictions, wind, humidity and even the probability of rain, eliminating needless overwatering, and in turn, saving money and water.
2. MP Rotator Nozzles
What do nozzles have to do with water conservation? A lot. At Earth Elements, we believe that the key to a successful irrigation system is making sure all the pieces work seamlessly together. The MP Rotator Nozzle rotates streams of water, at a lower application rate, 4/10 of an inch per hour. This helps ensure that the water gets into the soil and directly into the roots of the plants or turf.
The slower application rate helps prevent water and soil runoff, making them the ideal nozzles for sloped areas and larger properties. These nozzles help ensure that the water gets exactly where it needs to be, into the roots of the plant. In fact, we have found that by incorporating the MP Rotator Nozzles into an irrigation system the average client is able to reduce their water use by approximately 30%.
3. Rain Sensors
We think that there is nothing more wasteful and frustrating than having an irrigation system running during rain. However; despite all the best smart monitoring equipment and weather predictions available, the unexpected can still happen. This is why we highly recommend and design every irrigation system with a wireless rain sensor. These sensors will automatically monitor the amount of rainfall on a property and stop the sprinkler system from operating. When the rain sensor dries out, the system will automatically start up again.
4. ET Sensors
Sunlight, wind, humidity, soil composition, and even the landscape grading can all impact the moisture level within a property. This is one of the reasons that we recommend installing ET sensors onto an irrigation system. These sensors use solar radiation, wind, air temperature, and relative humidity to help determine the irrigation requirements of micro zones in a yard. In a large property, these sensors are particularly beneficial as they provide a more accurate picture of which areas require watering and which, do not.
5. Drip and Micro Irrigation
Irrigation systems are not only for lawns. Micro or drip irrigation is a slow release method that sends water directly to the roots of the plant- providing better water control and in turn saving you money. These systems help maintain the right moisture levels for trees, small or narrow gardens, shrub gardens, planters, raised beds, and other unique landscape needs.
One of the benefits of micro-irrigation is that it allows us to customize the watering amounts to meet the specific needs of each plant. For example, boathouse planters typically require multiple daily watering during the summer months, due to the high amounts of sunlight, heat, wind and reflection off the water.
At Earth Elements, we work with our clients to save time and help reduce overall water waste. Our customized approach with responsive tools helps ensure that we respond to the specific needs of the plants and property.